20 Aug 2015

New foreign investment regime introduced into Parliament

The Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 and its associated legislation (Bills) introduced into Parliament today are substantially similar to the drafts released earlier this year. The legislation is intended to begin on 1 December 2015.

The important changes that you should be aware of are:

  • the types of actions a foreign person will need to notify to the Treasurer before taking that type of action;
  • acquisitions of interests in Australian Land will need to be notified to the Treasurer unless an exemption applies;
  • the Treasurer will be able to make a range of orders if the actions of a foreign person are contrary to the national interest;
  • the monetary thresholds which will apply to actions before they are caught by the legislation;
  • the legislation will apply to foreign government investors;
  • fees will be introduced for applications for approvals;
  • an extensive penalty regime will be implemented;
  • some purchasers of land will be required to pay 10% of the purchase price (as a withholding tax) direct to the ATO (if they know the vendor is a foreign person); and
  • civil and criminal offences will apply for a wide range of circumstances including extending to third parties like company officers, lawyers, accountants and real estate agents;
  • foreign persons who hold agricultural land as at 1 July 2015 will need to register those interests by 31 December 2015 with the ATO.

For more detailed information on this package of legislation see our Briefing Note.

We will be holding Briefing Sessions on Australia's Foreign Investment Reforms in most of our offices. Your invitation to our Briefing Session will follow shortly.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.